Sen. Zorn votes for $465M in COVID-19 relief funding

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Friday voted for COVID-19 relief funding to help increase testing, ensure safe delivery of the vaccine and support workers and businesses effected by Gov. Whitmer’s repeated shutdowns.

“This critical relief funding will help both our incredible health care workers battling the virus and the thousands of Michigan workers and job providers struggling to make ends meet,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “The governor’s shutdowns continue to have an enormous impact on our economy and people’s lives — with many workers losing their jobs and locally owned businesses facing the loss of their livelihoods. This funding was approved with significant bipartisan support to give them much-needed assistance, including extended unemployment benefits and survival grants for impacted small businesses.

“If signed by the governor, this support will bring the total amount of resources we have invested in combatting this virus to nearly $4 billion.”

Senate Bill 748 includes:
• $220 million to extend unemployment benefits until April 1, 2021;
• $79.1 million to expand virus testing and vaccine distribution, including funds to ramp up testing of teachers to ensure healthy school communities;
• $115.3 million to hospitals and nursing homes to address nursing shortages, including an extension of the pay increase for direct care workers;
• $45 million in Employee Assistance Grants to restaurant and other workers laid off or furloughed due to Gov. Whitmer’s shutdown orders; and
• $63.5 million in Small Business Survival Grants and other assistance to help small businesses shuttered by the governor’s orders avoid permanent closure.

The bill uses available state and federal dollars and includes a provision that federal funds will be utilized instead of state funds if Congress approves a relief bill that directs more dollars to the states.

SB 748 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration. If approved by the House, it will go to the governor.

###

Zorn upset with extension of Michigan COVID-19 restrictions through Jan. 15

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, issued the following statement after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Department of Health and Human Services announced they are extending the ban on in-person dining at restaurants through Jan. 15:

“Restaurants have been closed to in-person dining for over a month, so they cannot be part of any current spreading of the virus. They have been closed and many of their employees have not been working, yet for some unknown reason, they are being forced to shut down for another month.

“I am upset and frustrated that the governor once again decided to go it alone and announce devastating restrictions with no input from the Legislature — at the same time we’ve been hard at work finalizing critical relief funding for Michigan workers and businesses affected by these ongoing shutdowns.

“This extension seems especially cruel considering the time of year. It will mean many people in our community will spend their Christmas and New Year’s wondering how they will make ends meet and many of the closed family-owned businesses may never reopen. Nine months into this pandemic, restaurant owners have adapted and implemented safety measures. They should be trusted to operate safely.

“I am also tremendously frustrated that these orders are wildly inconsistent and lack any transparency to the public. The Michigan people deserve more than soundbites at a press conference. They deserve answers.”

###

Legislature finalizes Zorn’s rental property transfer reform

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Legislature has approved Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to allow rental property owners more flexibility when transferring property between entities. The bill now heads to the governor to be signed.

“This is about ending unnecessary and costly rental re-inspections simply based on the transfer of a property from one type of entity to another — even if the owners of both entities are the same people,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “This is a form of double dipping that happens when an owner transfers property from one business entity to another or from personal ownership into an LLC, IRA or trust. The properties shouldn’t need to be re-inspected if they are certified and in compliance when these limited types of transfers happen.”

Senate Bill 692 amends the Housing Law of Michigan to add that a transfer of ownership to another person is not a change in ownership if the owner, owners, trustors, grantors, or members of the transferring person are under common control.

Under the bill, a property must have been inspected within two years of it being transferred. Since several municipalities have longer time periods between inspections due to good behavior or inspection capacity, the bill allows for a period set forth by the local municipality if it is longer than two years.

SB 692 clarifies that “person” in the law means an individual or a corporation, limited liability company, partnership, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, limited liability limited partnership, trust, individual retirement account, or other legal person recognized in Michigan.

Zorn applauds local railroad crossing improvement projects

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Wednesday applauded the selection of two Monroe County projects for state funding to improve railroad crossings.

“As railroads transport more and more products and materials in Michigan and across the country, we need to ensure highway-railroad crossings remain safe,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “I applaud MDOT for selecting these local projects, and I thank the Monroe County Road Commission for their work in obtaining this funding for these important improvements.”

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) announced the 2021 recipients for the Local Grade Crossing Surface Program. Selected on a competitive basis established by state law, 37 projects were awarded about $3 million to fund highway-railroad grade crossing surface improvements. These projects could involve anything from minor asphalt repairs to installing completely new track and surface materials.

The Monroe County Road Commission received funding awards for projects on Samaria Road and Morocco Road.

The Local Grade Crossing Surface Program offers 60% funding for eligible projects, with railroads responsible for the remaining 40% of costs. All repair work is performed by the railroad company and its contractors, with cooperation for detour routes provided by the local road agencies. The railroad and local road agency are responsible for scheduling the construction work.

###

Senate approves Zorn COVID-19 vaccine resolution

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved a resolution from Sen. Dale Zorn urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prioritize Michigan as one of the first states to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on our state and nation. It has caused a devastating loss of life and has struck a blow to our communities, businesses and economy,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “The development of an effective vaccine is a beacon of hope that offers the possibility of returning to a world free from the concern that a simple gathering of family and friends will spread the deadly virus.”

Senate Resolution 153 says that last month “the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, along with its partner BioNTech, announced their COVID-19 vaccine, which was found to be 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 in Phase 3 clinical trials.”

It also highlights that “Pfizer’s largest manufacturing site in the world is located in Portage, employing an estimated 2,200 Michigan residents. Every year, the PGS Kalamazoo facility in Portage produces 1,200 metric tons of active pharmaceutical ingredients and ships 140 million units of life-saving medicines.”

Zorn said, “Considering that the people of Michigan will play an integral role in producing this vaccine for the entire country and the drastic numbers of cases and hospitalizations we have seen recently in our state, it is both reasonable and responsible that the CDC prioritize Michigan in the distribution of the first COVID-19 vaccine.”

###

 Editor’s note: The above photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting www.SenatorDaleZorn.com/photowire.

Photo caption: Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, highlights Senate Resolution 153 urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prioritize Michigan as one of the first states to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Zorn said it’s reasonable and responsible to prioritize Michigan for the vaccine considering the integral role the state will play in producing it and the drastic number of COVID-19 cases in Michigan.

Sen. Zorn honored with economic development champion award

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn was recently honored by the Michigan Economic Developers Association (MEDA) with the 2020 Legislative Economic Development Champion Award.

“I entered public office to fight for positive solutions to boost our economy, improve people’s lives and bring more opportunities to Lenawee and Monroe counties and our entire state,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “It is an honor to be recognized for those efforts, especially as we continue to face a global pandemic that has already taken a huge toll on our livelihoods and way of life. We may face difficult times ahead, but I remain committed to doing everything I can to protect and promote Michigan families, workers and job creators.”

MEDA is a professional society with members throughout the state with the mission to attract and grow businesses, create and retain jobs, and make communities better places to live.

The organization said the award recognizes legislators who show a passion for championing economic development work.

Zorn was nominated by Lenawee Now Executive Director James E. Van Doren for his advocacy and dedicated work promoting economic prosperity in Michigan, help in securing cleanup funding for a blighted site in Tecumseh, support for an $800,000 Marshall Plan for Talent grant, effort to restore Going Pro job training funding in the state budget, and key role in bringing PlaneWave to Lenawee County.